Dear Eagle Family and Friends,
What an incredible journey this has been! I’m winding down what has been a fascinating period of “firsts” and “lasts” here at EWU.
It was so exciting to take to the stage on Saturday for Eastern’s first live commencement for our quarter programs since 2019. I can’t tell you how gratifying it was to see our graduates receive their diplomas “in person” and see those smiles after all they’ve endured during the pandemic. It was the perfect ending to our first full year back to normal campus operations and events. This came on the heels of the university once again being able to host our Senior Send-Off event, where graduates pass back through the pillars as they prepare for their next journey.
As these students embark on the next chapter of their lives, I too will be commencing the next chapter of my professional life. This means this is my last Eagle 1 message to all of the wonderful students, faculty, staff, alumni and community supporters who make EWU truly a special place. Like a lot of the “lasts” these days, it is bittersweet.
It’s been a tremendous honor to preside over Eastern Washington University for the last 23 months, and I want to thank each of you for your support. As a university and as a community, we have done things in the past two years that some thought could not be done. We moved a university online in three weeks. We taught and learned and worked and cried and watched and hoped and yelled and struggled in our home offices and our parents’ living rooms — at least our daughter did — feeling alone and hurting. We learned to be proficient at Zoom and we learned to hate Zoom and the never-ending shifting of faces in boxes that reminded us of our disconnection. But then we found a way to come back together — with all sorts of mandates and requirements — but it was joyful nonetheless.
There have been very few easy days in the last two years as we tackled many challenging issues, but there have also been days of deep meaning and great hope. All of it was possible because we did it together. Even apart we shared a common pain but also a common hope. We pulled together from a safe social distance. We were #EagleStrong in the real meaning of that phrase. I have been buoyed every day by the stories of support for one another and the successes we have found in the midst of it all.
I would like to say with all sincerity that being a part of what we have done, being in this position during it all, has been an honor and a privilege that I will never forget. The true measure of my happiness with all that we have done at Eastern culminated with that energetic commencement ceremony on Saturday.
Many have asked me what is next. The truth is I don’t know for sure. I am going to be taking a break from “doing” for a while and try to get back to “being” more. All that we have done in the past two years has sometimes come at the expense of not being with family and friends. For me, not being outdoors as much has been tough. So I am planning to be outside as much as I can and with family and friends through the summer. I haven’t thought too much beyond that but when you see me out and about in Cheney or Spokane, please say “hi” and let’s sit down over a cup of coffee (or other beverage) and talk about the future together.
David May, PhD
Eastern Washington University